Classical Kishore: 10 Songs Of The Legendary Singer Based On Indian Ragas

Most of us know Kishore Kumar as a singer who wasn't classically trained, but still ruled (and continues to rule) the heart of millions

There is a Kishore Kumar song for every mood. If you are upbeat and joyful, the musical genius can keep you company with Chala Jata Hun Kissi Ke Dhun Mein or Zindagi Ek Safar Hai Suhana. If you are feeling the blues, seek refuge in Ye Jeevan Hai or you could further sink into melancholy with Dukhi Mann Mere. Those in love, can revel in Aap Ki Aankhon Mein, and the heartbroken can find solace in Tum Bin Jaaon Kahaan. This unique versatility has earned Kishore da legions of fans spanning across generations. An actor, director, composer and above all a singer par excellence, it’s difficult to find an artiste with such a wide range of skills.

Most of us know Kishore Da as a singer who wasn’t classically trained, but still ruled (and continues to rule) the heart of millions. But the truth is, Kishore’s lack of classical musical knowledge cost him dearly as leading composers of his time like Naushad and Roshan did not give him a break. It was SD Burman who took a keen interest in his voice, and gave him a chance to sing for Dev Anand and the rest, as we all know, is history. Unlike popular perception, Kishore has crooned various melodies based on Hindustani classical music, though it may have been steps away from the usual structure and alankar of a pure raga but the soul, more or less, remained the same.

Here are 10 Kishore Kumar songs based on Indian classical music.

1) Koi Humdum Na Raha Koi Sahara Na Raha – Raag Jhinjhoti

This song was originally composed by Khorshed Minocher-Homji, better known as Saraswati Devi, the first female composer of Bollywood, and sung by Kishore’s elder brother Ashok Kumar in Jeevan Naiya (1936). However, 25 years later, Kishore da crooned this melody based on Raag Jhinjhoti for his film, Jhumroo.

Ashok Kumar shared interesting anecdote about Kishore’s rendition of the song. When the latter wanted to use this song for his film, Dada Muni (Ashok Kumar) told him would be a difficult song to sing, as it involved 14 maatras (beats) of Ada Chautaal. To this, Kishore Da said, “I don’t know about that but I will definitely sing better than you.”

Listen to his soulful rendition here:

2) Jeevan Se Bhari Teri Aankhein – Raag Malgunji

There is a lack of consensus over its raag. While many music aficionados think it’s based on raag Rageshri, others are of the opinion it’s raag Malgunji. This confusion is understandable as Malgunji itself a subtle combination of Raag Bageshri and Rageshri. Rajesh Khanna did justice to this beautiful song on screen, as he expressed his desire to live despite knowing he will die soon. The music was composed by Kalyanji Anand and the lyrics was written by Indeevar for Safar.

3) Mere Naina Saavan Bhaado- Raag Shivranjani

Raag Shivranjani was the favourite raag of Raj Kapoor, in fact some of his most famous songs are based on this raaga. Jaane Kahaan Gaye Woh Din (Mera Naam Joker), O Mere Sanam O Mere Sanam are based on this raag. This raag has also been used to convey love which transcends one birth. Mere Naina Saawan Bhado was also sung by melody queen Lata Mangeshkar but it’s Kishore da’s version that people love. The music was by RD Burman and lyrics by Anand Bakshi. The song is from the film Mehbooba starring Rajesh Khanna and Hema Malini.

4) Humein Tumse Pyaar Kitna- Raag Bhairavi

Bhairavi is the most commonly used raag by Indian composers. This song from Kudrat in raag Bhairavi is another feather in the cap of Kishore Kumar. However, the female version sung by Begum Parveen Sultana is miles ahead of its male version. Kishore Kumar was nominated for a Filmfare Award for this song, while Parveen Sultana walked away with the Best Female Playback Award. The song was composed by RD Burman and written by Majrooh Sultanpuri.

Do listen to the female version too.

5) Kuch To Log Kahenge- Raag Khamaj

The emotional intensity of this beautiful song from Amar Prem transports the listener to another world. Beautifully filmed on Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore, this song was composed by Pancham, and written by Anand Bakshi. Other popular songs based on raag Khamaj are Tere Mere Milan Ki Ye Raina, Aayo Kahaan Se Ghanshyam, O Sajna, Barakha Bahara Ayi.

6) Aapki Aankhon mein- Raag Kedar

This incredible duet by Kishore and Lata from Rekha-starrer Ghar is based on raag Kedar. This song was written by Gulzar and its music was composed by RD Burman. Songs like Humko Man Ki Shakti Dena, Darshan Do Ghanshyam, Pal Do Pal Ka Saath Hamara are also based on this evening raag named after Lord Shiva. This raag is mostly used in Bhakti Rasa.

7) Khilte Hain Gul Yahaan- Raag Bhimpalasi

This beautiful song from Shashi Kapoor-starrer Sharmille is based on raag Bhimpalasi. The song has been sung by Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar. Bhimpalasi, an afternoon raga, is also called Abheri ragam in Carnatic music. Other famous songs in Raag Bhimpalasi are Dam Mast Kalandar (Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan), Suno Sasurjee (Dulhe Raja), Nainon Me Badra Chaye and more.

8) Wo Shaam Kuch Ajeeb Thi-Raag Yaman

Yaman is the most popular raag among classical music lovers and several Bollywood compositions are based on this evening raag. Said to be the sweetest of all ragas, Yaman has inspired some of the most beautiful Ghazals on Indian sub-continent. The music of Wo Shaam Kuch Ajeeb Thi was composed by Hemant Kumar and its lyrics were written by Gulzar. Rajesh Khanna once again justified the emotions of this song through his priceless expressions in Khamoshi.

9) Ye raatein ye mausam – Raag Kirwani

This heart touching composition by Ravi was sung by Kishore Da in raag Kirwani for Delhi Ka Thug. Kirwani is assumed to have originated from Carnatic music. Other popular songs based on this raaga are Aane Wala Pal (Golmaal), Ye Raat Bheegi Bheegi (Chori Chori), Tum Bin Jaun Kahaan (Pyar Ka Mausam).

10) Iss mod se jaate hain- Raag Yaman

This soulful duet by Lata and Kishore from Aandhi has a lasting effect on its listeners. It is based on Raag Yaman. Once again composed by R D Burman and written by Gulzar, this song is one of the reasons Aandhi is still popular among cinephiles. Other popular songs based on Raag Yaman are Jab Deep Jale Aana, Aaj Jaane Ki Zid Na Karo, Chandan Sa Badan, Aanshu Bhari Hai and many more.